News / Africa

Fistula Surgery Changes Nigerian Women's Lives

JAHUN, Nigeria - One of the health issues shattering the lives of many women across Africa is obstetric fistula.  But in northern Nigeria, a hospital operates and heals women, giving them a new start in life. 

Allowing the patient to live a normal life and giving her back some dignity is the objective of this surgery performed in Jahun hospital, in northeast Nigeria.

Since 2008, the aid group Doctors Without Borders has operated on women with obstetric fistulas, also known as VVF.

The condition is a tear between the vagina and the bladder or the rectum.  It results from a difficult or prolonged childbirth, without proper medical assistance, which provokes tissue necrosis.

Fatima Mohammed gave birth a few weeks ago.

"I spent 2 days in labor, and then I passed out," she said. "I was unconscious for 4 days, I don't even remember which day I gave birth. After I delivered, this is when I started having a VVF and started to leak."

Each month in Jahun, the surgeons hired by Doctor Without Borders operate on about 20 women.  The fistula is not lethal, but causes a permanent incontinence.  Women get soiled, smell bad, and then their lives collapse.  They are often rejected by their husband and pushed aside by the community, as Habsa Musa has experienced.

"Because I was leaking, I thought my husband was going to leave me, because he had spent so much money for me at the Birenenkudu Hospital," she said.

After the surgery, the patients have physiotherapy sessions and a psychosocial follow-up to help them get back into society.  The goal is also to break the taboo over this infirmity: the V V F can be avoided and can be healed, as Jahun hospital's nurse Bilkisou Aliyou explains.

"When they come, we have different type of treatment. because some of them do not even need surgery.  With catheter treatment, they can be fine.  And some of them will undergo surgery and they will be fine," said Aliyou.

But the challenge is still huge.  Each year, 600,000 new cases are detected.  One third of them in Africa.

Patricia Huon is co-author of this report

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs